The Department of Health is using social networking to curb social diseases.

" Take Control — Take the Test " is the name of the department’s new Facebook and MySpace pages. Provider Health Educator Ken Palermo says you don’t have to be a "fan" or a "friend" to find information about sexually transmitted diseases on the sites.

Users can link their personal pages to the sites, and are encouraged to do so to help spread the message, but can just visit the pages if they’re worried about the stigma attached to having an STD site on their home pages.

Palermo says the idea behind creating the sites was to reach their target demographic, those ages 13 to 24, but that Facebook and MySpace are used by all ages. He thinks anyone of any age can benefit from accessing good information about STDs.

Palermo says visitors to the sites are picking up, especially as materials get "out on the streets."

The department is distributing promotional material for the sites at school nurse offices and clinics to reach the state’s youth. And he says the number of visitors to the sites is steadily growing.

We can use this to "reach younger and older populations; people can find accurate information, exchange ideas and determine the difference between fact versus myth," he said.

To get to the sites, visit .


Jessica Machetta reports [Download/listen MP3]